Back in Person at Irish Language Day

The twenty-second Lá na Gaeilge, the ICC’s annual language day, took place on May 6, 2023 at Elms College. After a two-year hiatus caused by the pandemic, it was great to deliver the program in person so that Irish language enthusiasts could renew old friendships and new students could have the opportunity to develop an appreciation for the language. Based on the feedback for the day, everyone was pleased with our format at the college.

At the start of the event, we remembered Kathleen Gilhooly and acknowledged her contributions over the years to the language day and to the Irish language program. The veterans at the day remembered Kathleen as an extremely friendly and knowledgeable teacher as well as an accomplished musician. She inspired many people to learn and improve their Irish at past events and as a classroom instructor. Her contribution of time and energy was essential in establishing and growing the language day and Irish language course offerings.

Emer Maguire, the Fulbright Irish Language Teaching Assistant, and her committee organized the day. Their challenge was to restart the program in person by creating an attractive schedule that included three different levels of Irish classes. Workshops including set dancing, calligraphy and language games were provided to appeal to various interests. Finally, they assembled a staff that included the FLTA from UCONN and instructor from the Albany Conradh na Gaeilge. Erin Mulvaugh, Kathleen Joss and Emer facilitated the workshops.

The highlight of the day was a lecture offered by Emer on her native County Louth. Although it is Ireland’s smallest county, we learned there were numerous layers of history, culture and geography that helped us get a better understanding of the area. In addition, all had an opportunity to hear and appreciate some of the unique features of the Ulster dialect.

At the end of the day, participants had a rewarding day. It is clear that language learning is a social event, and that learning is easier when there is a positive environment. This language journey is best done with others and encouraged by enthusiastic teachers. Thanks for your help on the day and the whole year, Emer.

– written by Irish language instructor Gerald Costello